Historic Gibson Faux Bumblebee Caps

LPaddicted

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No, the real God, the real Magician is Henry J. !
He can make fans buying anything !

Look what he made, and every piece are sold :



He also has the power to make people buy Les Paul in 20 pieces of wood (Studio Tribute, where Tribute stand for Tribute to chainsaw & glue). :laugh2:

HENRY J. IS THE REAL MASTER !!! :wow:
 

stinger

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It's a capacitor and that is about it. Nothing special. Nothing magical.

You cannot buy being a decent musician in an electronic component.

But luckily Gibson know that lots of men think you can and it keeps their business alive.

The real 'magic' is the marketing.
You got that right!:applause:
 

Liam

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I think people sometimes overlook that the real magic was a combination of certain caps (values varied during production) and certain pickups (again variations) and a well built guitar with better than normal woods.
Ken, have you actually tried Bumblebees, or any other old PIO caps in a Les Paul tone circuit? Or measured many of them? I like to think of myself as a fairly objective person, did physics and optoelectronics to postgrad level and I'm a professional engineer. The variances in the Bumblebees I've got aren't huge, they tend to creep up a little bit in capacitance with age, I'm guessing because the paper gets more compressed, but most don't go up by miles. And they are within the tolerance range of many modern caps.

But there is something different sounding about them, and I think it's a direct consequence of them being nothing special. I ought to have a measure of them on an LCR bridge, but here's my "slightly intuitive" feel for why they sound different. A tone cap dumps high frequencies to ground. As you roll off the tone control you dump a few more high frequencies to ground. I'm guessing the high frequency performance of old PIO caps isn't great, meaning that they dump comparitively less HF to ground than modern capacitors. This would explain the way there's still "life" in the guitar tone with the tone control rolled off, which is the reason some people like the older caps.

No one single element can replace that and since we don't understand the variances in the magic ones (Unless someone dissects them and measures these variances) we can't simply buy the orignal parts and expect to get the same result. Hell if that were true all the old guitars would be great but they weren't! Only a percentage were stellar & memorable.
Probably a mistake to start assigning mistique to PIO caps. In my experience if they're not leaky, and they measure up somewhere around 0.02 uF, they sound pretty good. But then so do 715 orange drops. "Good" audio caps sound a bit poor in my guitar tone circuits, I think because they work a bit too well as capacitors. I quite like the sound of the current Gibson fake bees, which is odd because I didn't like some of the earlier ones. And I think they've got the same cap in there. Maybe it's just me.

Liam
 

Marcus71

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Clearly the new Bumble Bees are not like the old Bumble Bees. And the Burstbuckers are not PAF's and so forth. But I played both my R9 and R8 extensively before I bought them. But more importantly, I listened to them. I liked the sound as well as the playability so I bought them.

I am not talking sh*t, but I don't understand paying for a Historic and then complaining about its components. If you don't like the guitar, don't buy it. Simple. You could buy a production model and mod it to your specifications and likes. I don't get doing that with a Historic.

This last week (and largely because of stuff I read on boards) I spent a lot of time listening to samples of numerous pickups as well as reading reviews and tone reports. Maybe my ears suck, but I can't hear a tremendous difference between all of the replacement PAF's that have similar outputs. Put it this way, I haven't heard any difference that couldn't be made up with some simple EQ'ing.

All of this tone stuff is 100% subjective. What sounds great to me might sound like mud to the next guy and vice versa. But I think too many spend too much time reading internet boards and less time actually playing the instrument.

After playing for about 30 years and owning a few dozen electrics starting with a $30 Kay all the way up to Gibson Historics, I can say these are the best damn guitars my hands have touched. I've never played a real 58-60 burst. And I doubt I've ever heard a real PAF in person. The oldest Lester I've played was probably an early 70's Black Beauty when I was in high school. I fell in love with the neck and probably because it was the first time I'd ever played a Les Paul-scale neck. It never occurred to me then that perhaps Strat-length necks weren't for me. I didn't even know there was a difference.

We didn't have the internet back then. We played what he had laying around and were happy about it. I don't have some elusive tone I am running down and I am not trying to copy anyone else. I play what makes me sound good. My Historics are stock and staying that way because that's how I bought them. They were good enough at the point of purchase. Nothing has changed.

Sorry for the rant.


MTA: The way some people are always tinkering with their guitars reminds me of people in high school that always were working on their muscle cars. It seemed that those cars spent more time in the garage getting worked on than in the street being driven. That was the point I was trying to make.
 

KenG

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Ken, have you actually tried Bumblebees, or any other old PIO caps in a Les Paul tone circuit? Or measured many of them? I like to think of myself as a fairly objective person, did physics and optoelectronics to postgrad level and I'm a professional engineer. The variances in the Bumblebees I've got aren't huge, they tend to creep up a little bit in capacitance with age, I'm guessing because the paper gets more compressed, but most don't go up by miles. And they are within the tolerance range of many modern caps.

But there is something different sounding about them, and I think it's a direct consequence of them being nothing special. I ought to have a measure of them on an LCR bridge, but here's my "slightly intuitive" feel for why they sound different. A tone cap dumps high frequencies to ground. As you roll off the tone control you dump a few more high frequencies to ground. I'm guessing the high frequency performance of old PIO caps isn't great, meaning that they dump comparitively less HF to ground than modern capacitors. This would explain the way there's still "life" in the guitar tone with the tone control rolled off, which is the reason some people like the older caps.



Probably a mistake to start assigning mistique to PIO caps. In my experience if they're not leaky, and they measure up somewhere around 0.02 uF, they sound pretty good. But then so do 715 orange drops. "Good" audio caps sound a bit poor in my guitar tone circuits, I think because they work a bit too well as capacitors. I quite like the sound of the current Gibson fake bees, which is odd because I didn't like some of the earlier ones. And I think they've got the same cap in there. Maybe it's just me.

Liam
Not to start a flame war here or intend any disrespect for another worthy opinion. When I started out in electronics in the late 70's I worked on a fair percentage of tube equipment. Back then hi-power radio transmitters and receivers in the miltary were all tube, some left over from the 50's. So I've measured my share of old components during maintenance, debug and repair of these old monsters till the miltary finally modernized. Now of course I'm in the Defense Industry and work for a company that designs custom Military Intercom, Radio and Data systems. (Of course I don't design these products but work with the HW Engs that due and support them tehnically)
Bacl to where I'm going with my oriignal statement...
As an Engineer you'd know then that audio frequencies are <VLF range and so parasitic elements like inductance of the leads or even the area/materials of the plates themselves are ridiculously small at these low frequencies (same with stray capacitance).
That basically leaves the dielectric itself as the main performance factor and yes some are definitely better than others for audio vs say RF. This why most people seem to hear a definite improvement when ceramic caps (good for RF) are replaced with other dielectrics which perform much more poorly at high frequencies but work just fine in the lower freq range. Many of course have other issues like temp stability.
Measuring old caps can be misleading with a single test frequency too. The early ones were quite crude in construction and unless you run them thru a swept freq test (simple RC circuit for example) in the range that you intend them to be used (Audio) I'd be hesitant to make any broadbased statement about the actual condition of these components.
My point is, since temp extremes are more or less non-existant (at least when playing the guitar unless you're out in freezing temps doing it & voltages in the circuits of a guitar are a few hundred millivolts) it's the dielectric of the cap that determines how it most responds across the freq ranges and modern caps are damned good. I think people romantize about "the gold ole days" always being better too much and that carries over into elements where that simply isn't true. Electronics is one element where we've made incredible strides so non-electronic people spouting off about how the old components were better obviously bugs me because it's not based on facts or knowledge but myth.\
An example many people could 'see' I think is this one.
Modern boutique amps are made with mostly modern components (including caps) and the method of construction varies quite a bit (turret boards, PTP Wiring or PWB) yet these amps arethe equal or better than many of the original designs they were based off of so how is that possible with modern components if they are poorer than the old ones?
 

Marcus71

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Modern boutique amps are made with mostly modern components (including caps) and the method of construction varies quite a bit (turret boards, PTP Wiring or PWB) yet these amps are the equal or better than many of the original designs they were based off of so how is that possible with modern components if they are poorer than the old ones?
I couldn't agree more but to some the old stuff just sounds better. I am not in the group that blindly claims all vintage stuff is superior. It's amp by amp. Personally, I think a lot of these comparisons is like picking gnat shit out of pepper.

I used to run an amp repair business out of my home when I lived in Austin. I've heard plenty of vintage amps that needed new components but the owners were in denial. Even Fender and Marshall make new amps that sound damn good to me. The Fender Deluxe Reverb RI is a fantastic amp. Hell, even the Hot Rod series is good stuff.
 

Jakeislove

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I believe Liam has offered the most reasonable explanation for why the older capacitors sound so different.

Additional, albeit ugly, possibilities are hearing damage and age. We lose some frequencies over time and PIO caps may sound a little fuller to old guys.
 

Liam

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<snip>Modern boutique amps are made with mostly modern components (including caps) and the method of construction varies quite a bit (turret boards, PTP Wiring or PWB) yet these amps arethe equal or better than many of the original designs they were based off of so how is that possible with modern components if they are poorer than the old ones?
Probably best if you read my post again. I don't think modern components are poorer than older ones, in fact I think the opposite.

Liam
 

gypsyseven

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Afer i saw those xray picture i wonder how my Luxe Bumblebees would look xrayed....
 

LPCustom72

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Want to say thanks to Liam and KenG for a very interesting, knowledgeable and civil discussion. This is why many of us come to the forum.
 

reborn old

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It would be great if someone with equipment could measure output frequencies of Bumblebees and Historic caps using an O-scope or other frequency capture equipment using controlled inputs (same guitar + pup + reference high-mid-low notes and/or a frequency generator).
I bet many members would be interested in similar tests using 50's vs Historic P90's or 50's vs Historic humbuckers, Historic wiring vs 50's wiring, again everything else remaining the same, as a control.
If I had access to any of these parts and test equipment, I would perform these and any other tests that might help demystify or explain "mojo", "50's sound" or authenticity arguments that crop up all the time, (maybe because they are opinions often based on impressions, rather than hard empirical evidence? )
I think Gibson should have done similar tests, pre-production, with Historics at least. Not saying Gibson has never tested for sound, but it would appear to be a guarded secret if they did.
Having someone who has extensively used 50's LP's and Historics oversee testing would be good insurance, in case of unexplainable results or test equipment limitations. I know tone is a somewhat personal choice and varies with every guitar and amp, but maybe scientific frequency output tests would yield results that debunk myths and/or confirm sound test results that have already been undertaken. It might even help differentiate mods that make a big difference vs mods that don't ?.
 

KenG

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The most accurate way would be to use a spectrum analyzer and do a frequency sweep (0-30Khz) from the tracking generator output into an RC circuit with the output going back into the SA input. You run the test with one cap, then the other and comparte their effects on o/p signal levels.
 

reborn old

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The most accurate way would be to use a spectrum analyzer and do a frequency sweep (0-30Khz) from the tracking generator output into an RC circuit with the output going back into the SA input. You run the test with one cap, then the other and comparte their effects on o/p signal levels.
Hi Ken. Has open source frequency testing already been done on LP related product to your knowledge ?
I have to admit I never searched "cap frequency test" or "pickup frequency test" or anything similar.
Without a common baseline to measure against, more caps and pups would be needed in the test sample and I'm not sure two vintage pickups would be enough, but it would be a start. A handful of bumblebees would be easier.
Testing would seperate myth from fact and clearly demonstrate the amount of variance that exists in early products.
HP and Agilent appear to be the best source for low frequency analyzers but havent found a rental source.
 

KenG

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In my work I've got access to the equipment but not to original Bumblebee caps unfortunately.
I would use a test circuit as described below to characterize the Caps performance without any other variables.
You could do it with a Function Generator and DMM and simply plot lots of points onto a XL spreadsheet or graph if the mmore expensive tools aren't available
 

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KenG

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Jesus what lame crap! ESR is for power supply applications not audio filtering! No test circuit diagrams either so anyone with electronics knowledge would wonder how they arrived at these values.
I didn't mid the Gibson story expanation though.
 

bonchie

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How do they sound?

I have an R8 with them and have no problems.

Therefore, I think this is pretty irrelevant.
 


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